Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The NBA! It's Fan...tas...tic?

Da Realist:

What do you think about this?

Gangsta D:

I don't pay attention to Celizic. The NBA doesn't have transcendent stars anymore, but that doesn't mean it sucks.

Da Realist:

I don't think he knows what he is talking about most of the time. but i wonder if he's onto something with the way the nba presents itself. the nba has always been star-driven, but there was an element of "team" there too. i think the stars benefited from the fact that they were attached to the "team" concept. so "team" was a stepping stone for the transcendant stars to springboard from. now stars are out there alone, not really tethered to the "team".

The lakers used to be a great franchise that just happen to have one of the top players in nba history (well, a few top players). we used to watch because they were the LAKERS. now, the lakers aren't really must-see tv because marketing isn't geared toward the "team" brand, just kobe. you don't watch the LAKERS. you watch KOBE, who just happens to play for the lakers.

College football has a lot wrong with it, which we argue about every year. but one thing it gets right is the "team" brand. you don't watch ted ginn, jr. you watch OHIO STATE who ted ginn happens to play for. you don't watch reggie bush, you watch the USC TROJANS, who reggie bush happens to play for.

As a by-product, rivalries have taken a back seat in recent years. lakers vs celtics are now kobe vs paul pierce. bulls vs pistons are now about ben wallace and his homecoming.

The nba needs to instill the "team" brand again and realize this HELPS the stars. gives them grounding, a stepping stone. i think the nba got so happy with the money and marketing of the michaell jordan era that it got lazy. now it's paying for it. Their marketing strategy is based on having a michael jordan, but he left june 14, 1998.


You know I had not been on MSNBC since I left XOM not b/c I didnt care for Celzic (or Ventre for that matter) just b/c I simply forgot about the site :-)

I think it's a combination of many things. Salary caps, early entries, highlights reels, etc have changed the game dramatically since '98. For example, whenever Jordan is mentioned, they dont dwell on anything pre 91 or post 98 in depth. They talk about the 6 titles he won in the 90s. They dont mention how long it took him just to get to the Finals and what he had to do to get there.

You also have to keep in mind that coaching at the high school level has changed for the worse. Some coaches are concerned with how they can milk a lil something extra out of their bonafide star while he is still under his realm. What's lost in it is the art of teaching fundamentals. Shoot my JV basketball coach refused to play me in high school b/c the starting PG's Dad owned the concession stand :-). All jokes aside, some players have yet to master the mid-range jumpshot on offense and the simple form of moving their feet on defense. They come into college and/or the NBA expecting to dominate like they did in high school and they get a rude awakening (see Darius Miles)

Early entries. I dont knock a man for wanting to put food on his family's table so this is a conflict of interest point for me. There are guys who are ready for the league when they leave (see Bron, Melo, Shaq) and some that could use a year or two of professional ball before they left early (see Kobe, T-Mac). Bottom line is, every early entry isnt guaranteed but someone in they camp is telling them they are going to take over the league.

Salary cap. This has created so much backstabbing it's hard for any team to really create a dynasty. Look at the Carlos Boozer/Cavs situation. Look at whats about to happen in Seattle when Rashard Lewis opts out this summer. More and more players are looking for the big payday. Yea they dont mind helping the team out as long as they can get duly compensated in the process. You think Andrew Bynum will stay in LA if he doesnt see a big payday next summer? Even if he barely avgs 9pts a game? They pay on potential now not on what have you done for me.

I know we talked about this back and forth yesterday too. The game has changed, that's for certain and overall the quality is down. But I continue to have hope every year b/c there are players I like to watch. I mean Agent Zero has definitely made me a fan of the Wiz even though I know they are mediocre.

Like I said back in 2004, David Stern shit his pants when Shaq and Kobe was dissolved b/c he knew that was the meal ticket, loved or hated by the public

Da Realist:

Good points. in your opinion, has it changed forever or is there something that can be done to increase the quality of the league? you're saying the problem goes all the way down to the grassroots level. if it's that embedded, we may never go back to the level of quality from the 80's/early 90's.

I mean, i have a hard time believing damon jones would get significant playing time 15 years ago. i STILL can't believe miami won the title last year. can't believe how bad the whole eastern conference sucks. and somehow, soft teams like dallas and phoenix are running away from the field.

Gangsta D:

I just think people are chasing ghosts. The athletes are better but the game isn't necessarily better. But I think that's OK. The game is still pretty good. There is no Magic, Jordan, or Bird but there are a lot of very good players that play exciting basketball. I think everyone feels the NBA is still in tthe late 90's when you had a bunch of 87-79 scores every night. It's not that bad. Teams play very good but not great ball. The 80's-early 90's was a zeitgest that no sports league will probably ever see again. I think that's OK. We should relish the players we have now and stop comparing them to players from a romanticized time. Cause honestly, I only watched the Lakers, hawks, and knicks growing up. We had WGN, so I would occasionally catch a Bulls game. But unless you were playing one of my teams, I didn't really care. So my approach hasn't really changed that much in the last 20 years.

Da Realist:

Zeitgest? you know it's bad when i have to look it up... :-)

but, unlike you, i've completely changed my approach. no more running home from church frantically trying to catch as much of the game as possible. first game in early november used to be what most people feel about opening day in baseball. now i'm only interested starting in late april. the worst thing that could have happened to me was that i grew up in the nba's 'zeitgest'. if i had started watching in the 70's, it would probably be a different story.

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